North Korea claimed it carried out a powerful underground nuclear test Monday — much larger than one conducted in 2006 — in a major provocation in the escalating international standoff over its rogue nuclear and missile programs.
Pyongyang announced the test, and Russia's Defense Ministry confirmed an atomic explosion at 9:54 a.m. (0054 GMT) in northeastern North Korea, estimating the blast's yield at 10 to 20 kilotons — comparable to the bombs that flattened Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The regime also test-fired three short-range, ground-to-air missiles later Monday from the same northeastern site where it launched a rocket last month, the Yonhap news agency reported, citing unnamed sources. The rocket liftoff, widely believed to be a cover for a test of its long-range missile technology, drew censure from the U.N. Security Council.
North Korea, incensed by the condemnation of the April 5 rocket launch, had warned last month that it would restart its rogue nuclear program, conduct an atomic test and carry out long-range missile tests.